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Thursday, March 15, 2012

BIRTHDAY FREEBIES

Some people look at birthdays as a depressing event.
Another year over. Another year older.
Others (like myself) look at birthdays as a chance to get lots of free things!

I'm not talking about gifts from friends and family...although that is nice.
I'm talking about complete strangers giving you gifts just because it is your birthday!

Here is what I was given for free last month on my 31st birthday...

{the coupons began rolling in, by mail and email, leading up to my bday}

Like a nerd, I printed and cut coupons and put them in a red envelope. On the front of the envelope, I wrote the store and the expiration date, so I could see if time was running out on any deals.

{because I'm signed up to receive email updates from them, Noodles gave me dinner for free}

I got the Wisconsin Mac and Cheese (and gave it to Derek).

{because I'm signed up to receive emails updates from them, Corner Bakery gave me a free dessert}
I got the Birthday Bundt Cake (and gave it Derek).

{When you register a gift card online, Starbucks gives you a free drink on your birthday...any size!}

On a Saturday morning of running errands, I got myself a Venti, Decaf, Sugar-Free Caramel, Soy Latte. Slightly less complicated than this drink! Maybe I'll try THIS on my next birthday!


{Panera has a great rewards program. They give you free food when you eat there...and on your bday}
I got the Chocolate Chip Muffie to enjoy with my free Starbucks drink.
This time I got it for myself...and not Derek!


{If you sign up for email updates from Caribou, you get a free drink (any size) on your bday}

I left work a few hours early on my bday and enjoyed a decaf, iced, sugar-free caramel soy latte!

{If you sign up for email updates from the Container Store, you get a free gift on your bday}

You can never have enough reusable bags- right?!

No coupon needed for this one... get your eyebrows waxed for free at the Brow Bar at any Ulta Salon!!!

{If you sign up for email updates from World Market, they give you $10 to spend on your bday}
 I only had to pay $2 for this scarf with my $10 bday coupon!

There are a few coupons I didn't get around to using... $10 at Uncle Dan's, $10 off your $30 bill at Maggiano's, a coupon from Chili's, buy one-get one free at Cold Stone... (all because I'm signed up for email updates).
I'm sure there are other great birthday deals out there...don't be afraid to get excited about free things!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

DATE NIGHT...GRANDPARENT STYLE

Burgers and fries at the Soda Shop followed by church in the evening. Sounds like what my grandparents did on dates.

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Spicy Chicken sandwiches and lemonade followed by Founder's Week.


Sounds like what Derek & I did on our date last night.



We went specifically to hear Francis Chan.
He is the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, the best selling author of several books, and currently starting a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco.

Derek heard him speak a few years ago at Challenge Youth Conference, we began listening to his podcast shortly after, read some of his books, and even went to hear him preach at Cornerstone when we were out in California a few years ago (before seeing a Bears/Chargers game, of course).

This guy is the real deal.
He truly practices what he preaches and whenever I hear him speak, I walk away challenged in my faith.

Last night he asked:
~Do you just read the Bible and not do what it says?
~Do you make excuses for why you are not following the Lord with everything you have?
~The older you get, do you find yourself more excited about living for the Lord, letting go of things in this world, and really desiring to please God...as you live adventurously for Him?

Again, I walked away encouraged, convicted, and challenged.

Follow up on past speakers & messages from this year's Founder's Week.
Watch live online, listen on 90.1FM, or catch up via Moody Bible Institute's You Tube Channel.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

DETOX WEEK 3 RECAP

It's been a while since I've given my Detox Week 2 Recap.
I ended up having so many leftovers after week 2 that menus kinda blurred together during the following weeks.
Although this would be week 6 since starting THE CLEANSE, I'm really just starting to eat meals from week 4, and begin my transition out.

WHAT MEALS DID I LOVE FROM WEEK 3?

{Pineapple Rosemary Detox Smoothie}
 I continued sticking with smoothies for breakfast and even tried a few new ones I found online like the one above.


{Kale, White Bean, Potato Stew}
 As usual, I've loved the soups and stews. This one was so hearty and tasty. There are still 3 soups I have not made...but will definitely be trying before the warm spring weather arrives (although for Chicago Winters...it's felt like spring these past few months) I'm not complaining!!!

{Shiitakes and Brown Rice en Papillote}
This was a wonderful dish I will be making again. It was simple and easy to make, AND tasted great!

{Chickpea-Brown Rice Veggie Burger}
It would be hard to narrow down my absolute favorite recipe from this detox...but this burger would definitely be in the running. I was amazed at how easy it was to make my own veggie burger...and even more amazed at how great this tasted! I will DEFINITELY make this again.

WHAT HAS THIS DONE FOR MY DIABETES?
Ironically enough, the past few weeks have been a little harder on my blood sugar as I've begun transitioning out of the detox. Sure I've cheated here and there and may have eaten a few more pieces of dark chocolate than I should've...but I'm really starting to notice the affects of eating grains on my blood sugar (brown rice, quinoa, etc.).
I still have some more observing and experimenting to do...but against my Dr.'s thoughts, my blood sugar is still doing really well as I eat fruit (especially on an empty stomach first thing in the morning or with some nuts for a morning snack).

NOW WHAT FOR WEEK 4-ISH (WEEK 6)?
I'm going to finish out a few of the transition meals, and then I have another crazy 30 days of experimenting with a different diet/lifestyle I recently came across.

All in all, I'm still amazed at what eating the right foods can do for us, how it can heal certain ailments, and how God made our bodies to do amazing things, (especially when they are fueled and cared for in the right way).

***I encourage you to make small adjustments to your diet/lifestyle where you can. I know for myself, making small changes has really added up and benefited my life over the past 2 years.
There are so many different studies and theories on diets out there that I like the idea of taking 30 days to try something out. If it doesn't make you feel better than you did before, you can always go back to the way things were. I'm excited to jump into the next adventure and will be trying my best to document it here***

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DON'T JUDGE THIS HIGH MAINTENANCE STARBUCKS DRINKER

Throughout college and for a year after I graduated, I nannied and babysat for several families. It was there in the North Shore that I had my first tofu-dog, met families that ONLY shopped at Whole Foods, and spent lots of time filling sippy cups with half organic juice and half water.



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In my neighborhood we grew up on PB&J, Mac-n-Cheese & hot dogs, and casseroles that involved Ritz Crackers.
Being Italian, pasta was a staple in our diets.
Sundays were spent with extended family over a spaghetti dinner.
Talk about carb-overload...you haven't lived until you've tried a Mostaccioli sandwich!
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I played a lot of sports growing up and was always active, however, it's just been in the past few years that I've become really health conscience as far as what I eat.

Over the past two years, my Google Reader has been overflowing with healthy living/eating blogs, filling my head with a lot of information about nutrition.

I've found myself doing things that I used to think were only for YUPPIES:

{DRINKING GREEN SMOOTHIES}

ENJOYING YOGA

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{WATCHING DOCUMENTARIES}


{GETTING EXCITED ABOUT RECYCLING}


{SUBSCRIBING TO HEALTHY MAGAZINES}


{STARTING OFF THE DAY W/ LEMON GINGER TEA}


{INVESTIGATING DIFFERENT DIETS}


My life looks a bit different today than it did 10 years ago.
Have I become a YUPPIE?!?
GONE GRANOLA?!?


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...And have I recently stepped over the line into a completely new territory when ordering my drink at Starbucks?!?!
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I should've just ordered an herbal tea...but this was a moment to celebrate.
I was meeting a friend who had exciting news...it was a time to drink well.
A fancy shmancy drink was in order!

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Please don't judge me for what I'm about to confess.
I ordered a:
short, decaf, upside down, skinny caramel soy macchiato, without the caramel drizzle and with an added shot of sugar free caramel syrup.


Why did I do it?!
She told me all the cool kids are drinking upside down caramel macchiatos!
...but I'm on a detox/cleanse, so I had to get decaf
(plus like an old lady, caffeine makes me jittery).
Hello Diabetes! So it had to be SKINNY (sugar-free/low-fat)...but the ironic thing is, the added caramel drizzle (even in a skinny order) is filled with tons of sugar, so I got rid of the drizzle.
The barista informed me that I'd basically be drinking a sugar free vanilla latte...so I asked him to add a shot of SF caramel.
And the Soy? Yup, no dairy while on the detox/cleanse.
Why a short? I just wanted a little bit to drink..and it's cheaper than a tall!


I thanked the man taking my order, embarrassingly giggled, and asked if that was the most high-maintenance drink that's been ordered all day.
He laughed and responded, "Not even close"!!!
 So next time you hear someone order a complicated drink, don't judge!
They may just have a sensitivity to caffeine, be lactose intolerant, have Diabetes...or just keeping a close watch on what they put into their body.

They may not even be from Lincoln Park, the North Shore, or the suburbs...perhaps they're from Portage Park!


I'm really not trying to be a yuppie or to fit into the latest trend.
It's really all for the HEALTH of it!
(And I will probably just order the herbal tea next time).


Friday, January 20, 2012

FRIDAY FAVES


These are a few of my favorite things...
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If you have chapped lips, want to feel feminine, enjoy glossy lips without the added color or texture of lipstick, want to feel pretty, extra lady-like and kiss your man without him worrying about getting color all over HIS lips...well, whatever the scenario, go out and buy this lip balm right now.
Minty, Rose...you can't go wrong.
Trust me!


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Are you on Spotify yet?!? I first heard of it through Facebook as people were posting what they were listening to. Derek joined first and suddenly we could listen to anything and everything as we made dinner and washed dishes.
Spotify brought so much joy to our everyday activities.
(Why the dramatic excitement?). Our ipod has been broken for a while now.
While Derek's greatest hidden talent is being an awesome singer/songwriter... it's been nice to add some variety to our evening entertainment!

My favorite part of Spotify is that you can see what others are listening to. That has come in handy when I just don't know what to listen to or want to broaden my musical tastes.

It's also amazing when I get to see that a co-worker in another department is rocking out to Hanson all afternoon or that a male acquaintance from college is really into Britney Spears!


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I first spotted the new Cappuccino flavored Larabars on a blog, but figured it would take forever for them to come to Chicago. I can't tell you how excited I was to see these last week at Whole Foods! I love Larabars!!! This could possibly be my new favorite flavor...especially since I've had to give up coffee while on the 2012 Whole Living Action Plan!


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Not only did I pick up a new flavored Larabar...but an entirely new line of bars made by Larabar! The Uber bar is...Uber awesome! FYI, I hate the word Uber...but I LOVE these granola bars! They are made with fruit, nuts and natural ingredients just like Larabars, but have a more trail mix kind of texture to them. My first bar was Bananas Foster. WOW! You NEED to try these. I've since tried Apple Turnover and Roasted Nut Roll, both of which I highly recommend!


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With all the talk about hydration yesterday, I'm surprised I forgot to mention Metro Mint! This water is AMAZING! I think I've tried every flavor but Cherry. Even the chocolate mint is delicious. I was skeptical at first, but this water really is refreshing and tasty.

If you want to make it last a little longer and get your money's worth, you can refill it with water from the drinking fountain once you've finished half of the bottle. The minty taste will still last.


Happy Friday...what are your faves from this past week?!?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

HYDRATION WITHOUT THE BOREDOM

One of the tips Whole Living offers to help get you through a successful cleanse, is to
drink plenty of water.

In the past, I've found it hard (even boring), to drink the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses each day.
I've heard it is also suggested that we should drink half of our body weight in ounces each day.
(If you weight 200 pounds, you should drink 100 ounces...which comes out to 12.5 glasses/cups each day).

Here are some tips that have helped me drink close to 100 ounces of water each day.
And no, I don't weigh 200 pounds...it just happens to be 3 water bottles worth of water!


I've mentioned before that I like to add flavored ice cubes to my water bottle. This really does add a nice touch and keeps me coming back for more sips throughout the day. I fill our white ice cube trays with regular water and the colored trays with flavored water (or in the case above, some frozen canned pumpkin from the fall...to eventually be used in a pumpkin/gingerbread smoothie)! This helps keep things organized, and keeps Derek from icing his knees with fruity flavored ice cubes after a hard workout/run/football/basketball game.



I make sure to keep my water bottle (with the cap off & in reaching distance from me) on my desk when at work. This makes it extremely accessible and visibly reminds me to keep drinking throughout the day. I take it to meetings with me and aim to drink one bottle by lunch, another by the time I leave work, and finally one more by the time I go to bed. I also keep my vitamins nearby so I remember to take them with my morning snack, lunch, and dinner. I like that the water bottle I use lists the ounces right on the bottle, so I can keep track of how much I have left to drink.
(Remember, 8 liquid ounces is equal to 1 cup).


Freezing fruits and vegetables to use in place of ice cubes also adds a nice flavor to your water. Berries, cucumbers, and orange, lemon, or lime slices all freeze well. As with everything, the key is to stay organized and prepare ahead of time.

Drink up,
stay hydrated without getting bored,
and continue making small changes to better your health!